"Dishonest scales are an abomination to the Lord,
But a just weight is His delight."
Last week, Governor Abbott proposed reigning in taxpayer subsidies to Austin's F1 racetrack; the special interests who benefit from those subsidies howled in predictable protest:
What happened earlier this week with the announcement by Gov. Greg Abbott’s office that the state would reduce its incremental tax contribution from $25 million to $19.6 million is what has been happening since the plan to bring Formula One to Austin became public in 2010.Anything less than full capitulation to the racing gods is to induce calamity. Or as Circuit of the Americas Chairman Bobby Epstein so colorfully put it to the Austin American-Statesman, “To use a technical term, I think we’re screwed.”And how are taxpayers and racing aficionados to know this might really be the end? In the same way they could count on every glittering promise made by Formula One. Blind trust.Despite dealing with state, county and local governments and their bothersome transparency requirements, the Circuit of the Americas people have from the start managed to keep their profits and losses and all the numbers that go into them a secret.Watchdog and the Statesman were left to guess on what basis the various governments would demand their taxpayers be involved. The only time the public got a peek is when Formula One came to Austin Energy looking for a half-a-million-dollar solar arrayhandout, or Travis County for roadway concessions or sending Austin officials on aEuropean racing junket. And only because the bureaucrats were required to report.
The real money, Sylt says, goes to the Formula One Group, an international corporation of such scope and complexity that it must take every penny of TV revenue corporate hospitality and, of course, those advertising hoardings worldwide to sustain it.You would think a setup that reduces grand prix racing to an adjunct government program might have given someone like Red McCombs pause.
Read the whole thing here.“The Governor’s foremost priority is to ensure that taxpayer money from the Major Events Reimbursement Program is spent in accordance with the guidelines and regulations set forth by the Texas Legislature,” Cait Meisenheimer, the governor’s deputy press secretary, said in an email statement to Watchdog. “It’s inappropriate for an applicant to expect the Governor to violate the legal standard and an independent auditor’s decision. “The Statesman this week repeated the old thinnest of margins saw while Dave Shaw, spokesman for Circuit of the Americas, intimated Texas might have a legal problem with its new calculating.“An entire facility was constructed based on that deal,” Shaw told the Statesman. “If the calculation is changed now, that’s effectively changed the terms of the deal.”
Bottom Line: Formula 1 subsidies never had the consent of the governed, either locally or statewide. Unfortunately, it's too late to reverse the track's construction. That being said, if organizers want to hold future races hostage to continued subsidies from the state of Texas, they should feel free to not let the door hit them in the rear end on the way out.